The Best Tablet of 2018December 27, 2018
Hate it or love it Tablets in 2018 are here to stay and better than ever. I will be running through a few tablets today and I will have crowned The Best Tablet of 2018 in my opinion. A few years back the Tablet market was pretty stale and dull, in 2018 we saw a few new entries into the tablet market and a lot of much-needed product hardware and software updates. Whether you are on a long train commute to work, traveling via plane or just chilling at home, there is a tablet for you.
I won’t be mentioning the battery life of these devices, all the devices should see you get 10+ hours of use. I won’t be mentioning cameras either, seriously, who uses the cameras on a tablet, especially the rear facing one, I can see myself using the front facing cameras for face time or Skype and for that they are good enough.
1. Winner – Apple iPad Pro 11
- New Design
- Amazing Screen to body ratio
- iOS 12
- You have to buy the Pen and Keyboard separately
In 2018 we got one of the biggest refreshes of and existing product, The Apple iPad Pro 11 still look’s like an apple device but is a drastic improvement over the previous generation. It is hands down the best Tablet in 2018 and Apple have positioned it as a do everything laptop replacement, even though you have to purchase the Pen and the Keyboard separately, this tablet does a lot of things right.
The hardware is the biggest improvement by far, the screen to body ratio of the Retina Display is on point and the slim sharp design of the body oozes modern Apple. Im sure eventually we will get near bezeless tablets but this is the closest we have for now. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is no more, to be honest we saw this coming a mile away and its not that shocking anymore, most people own Bluetooth headphones and if you don’t they are fairly inexpensive now. The thing that makes me the most excited is that Apple have got rid of the lightning connector on this model and used a USB-C port instead, moving one step closer to being able to use one charger for everything across all hardware (See my article on USB-C). You also get 4 Speakers on board, 2 on the bottom of the device and 2 on the top, the Audio you get from these speakers isn’t game changing but it is more than enough for day to day use.
Both the Apple Pen and Keyboard have also been updated, the Pen is now more accurate and charges via magnet connectivity on the side of iPad. The Keyboard keys still have shallow key travel but to be honest it is much better than most Apples laptop models.
The user experience on the iPad Pro has also been improved, Apple have removed Touch iD and introduced the same Face iD technology as the iPhone X and it works in any orientation. Gesture control from the iPhone X has made its way onto the pro as well, it takes a bit of getting used to but once you use it it can become very intuitive. This tablet also has iOS 12 on board, the same software that you get on the cheapest iPad, this is the one thing I would change on this Pro model. If Apple want to seriously position this tablet as a laptop replacement it CANNOT have software on it that doesn’t allow you to do what you can do on a Laptop, iOS 12 works fine if you are using this as a tablet but with limited external connectivity and poor file management iOS 12 is terrible for intensive editing and processing.
Overall there are very few cons with the iPad Pro 11, the biggest being iOS 12 limiting its productivity goals as a laptop replacement. If you can look past that and the near $1000 dollar price tag, the iPad Pro 11 is the best Tablet of 2018 and a nice refresh to a somewhat stale product line for Apple
2. Runner Up – Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
- S Pen Included
- Improved screen to body ratio
- DeX Desktop Mode
- You need to purchase the Keyboard separately
- DeX needs improving to be a true productivity machine
Another improvement to a stale product is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, Samsung are also running with the laptop replacement mantra and the Tab S4 is positioned to go head-to-head with the Apple iPad Pro.
Over the S3 the S4 has shrunk down the screen bezels and have been able fit a 10.5 inch super AMOLED display inside the foot print of smaller 9.7 inch S3, Samsung have always made the best screens and the trend continues here. The home button and fingerprint sensor have also been removed to create a more streamlined look up front, the rear of the device is a large piece of gorilla glass which look’s and feels great but not sure about how it would handle a drop. You will also find a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C connector, Samsung haven’t sacrificed the 3.5mm headphone jack yet but im sure it will be nowhere to be found on the Tab S5.
The S4 comes with an S Pen included in the box and the only other accessories you have to purchase is the Keyboard. The Pen has been improved to feel more natural in had than the previous generation, you don’t need to charge it and Samsung have put a slight notch on one side to stop it from rolling away, its a small detail that not many manufacturers would have thought of but makes a big impact when using the S Pen. The Keyboard is back lit and clicky but absent of any sort of track pad so you will need a mouse in desktop mode, you do get a spot to insert your S Pen for safe keeping which is a nice touch.
The software experience is much the same from the S3 with only a slight upgrade to Android Oreo 8.1 from 8.0 on the S3, this is great for navigating the UI when in tablet mode and it feels snappy and responsive. Where the S4 shines and simultaneously falls short is in the introduction of Samsungs DeX mode, when you connect the S4 Keyboard the tablets interface changes to an Android desktop mode. In this desktop mode you get things like Bluetooth mouse right click functionality, the screen represents more of a traditional desktop layout and more multi tasking capabilities. On paper this sound amazing, in practice it is very clunky and you lose a lot of touch screen functionality that intuitively makes sense, the keyboard layout without the track pad is so so and there are a few Samsung specific short cuts that do help but the learning curve is steep. Even with all these issues it can still be a competent productivity tool and is better with the keyboard and mouse than the competition.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is a welcomed improvement over the S3, the addition of DeX and the inclusion of the S Pen in the box makes for a tempting value proposition over the iPad Pro. As an overall tablet the S4 is amazing, as a laptop replacement the DeX experience leaves much to be improved. Im sure with time Samsung can iron out the kinks and the S4 is still the best Android Tablet in my opinion.
3. Honorable Mention – Huawei Mediapad M5 Pro
- M Pen included
- You need to purchase the Keyboard separately
- Desktop mode
Huawei is quickly becoming one of the best Mobile Phone manufacturers in the world, its smart phone offerings are top-notch and compete head-to-head with the industry heavy weights. If you didn’t already know, they also make tablets. The Huawei Media Pad M5 Pro is an Android tablet that I had to mention in this article, while the Apple and Samsung offerings fully loaded will see you approaching the $1000 mark, the M5 Pro comes in fully loaded at $409.99 USD.
The M5 hardware is premium, with an 82% screen-to-body ratio and a slight curve to the screen on the edges the M5 has a great 10.8 inch 2K panel. The body on this device is a full metal build and around the back you have 4 speakers tuned by Harmon Kardon providing some punchy audio. There is a USB-C port for fast charging and connectivity. All in all this device feels premium in hand but in the look’s department it falls short to its more expensive counterparts because it just look’s plain to be honest. There is also a finger print scanner that works as a home button as well, makes you think why Samsung abandoned it on the S4 seeing as the bezels are a similar size on the M5
You do receive a stylus in the box, the M-Pen, and you can purchase a keyboard cover to transform this tablet into it productivity mode. Much like Samsungs DeX feature the M5 Pro changes to a desktop/productivity mode when the keyboard is attached.
The UI experience is a Huawei skinned Android Oreo 8.0, the skin is light and much more bearable than on its smart phones. In tablet mode it is snappy and works really well for media consumption. When docked in the keyboard its desktop productivity mode is like a lite version of Samsungs DeX and that isn’t a good thing. I feel like it just orientates the icons like a desktop and the M-Pen functionality is extremely limited.
The Huawei Mediapad M5 Pro is a decent tablet with flagship internals, as a media consumption device I can’t fault it, when it comes to a laptop replacement it is not great. If all you are going to do is watch YouTube, browse Facebook and the internet then the M5 Pro is more than enough and can handle anything you throw at it.
The Apple iPad Pro 11, Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, and Huawei Mediapad M5 Pro are all great Tablets. If you are looking for a laptop replacement the Samsung is your best option. If you are looking for the best tablet of 2018, the Apple iPad Pro 11 is hands down your best option.
Tablets in 2018 have seen a bit of a resurgence, lets hope manufactures keep improving these products and in coming years we can see a Tablet that is a true laptop replacement.
What did you think of this article, did you agree or disagree with my opinion? Comment below and let me know